Finnish scientists propose nanosat fleet to study 300 asteroids

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Scientists at the Finnish Meteorological Association have proposed the development of a fleet of 50 miniature satellites that wishes study the behaviour of more than 300 asteroids over a term of three years.

The proposal has been made as part of a mission scan led by Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).

The Asteroid Touring Nanosat Fleet visages 50 spacecraft propelled by innovative electric solar wind pilots (E-sails), which will produce propulsion and eliminate the use of propellant.

The squadron is also equipped with instruments to capture images and collect spectroscopic observations on the composition of the asteroids.

Each satellite is expected to visit six or seven asteroids ahead of returning to Earth to deliver the data.

A sum of around €60m is estimated to be made for the proposed mission, while the research has been led by Dr Pekka Janhunen from FMI who has upped the concept at this year’s European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC).

Janhunen suggested: “Asteroids are very diverse and, to date, we’ve only seen a small mob at close range.

«To understand them better, we need to study a ginormous number in situ. The only way to do this affordably is by using small spacecraft.

«They order also gather data on the chemical composition of surface features, such as whether the spooky signature of water is present.»

“The nanosats could gather a great practise of information about the asteroids they encounter during their jaunt, including the overall size and shape, whether there are craters on the to all appearances or dust, whether there are any moons, and whether the asteroids are primitive leagues or a rubble pile.

“They would also gather data on the chemical form of surface features, such as whether the spectral signature of water is endowment.”

During their mission, the nanosats will be able to fly by their objective asteroids at a range of around 1,000km.

Each of the probes will peculiarity a 4cm telescope capable of imaging the surface of asteroids with a resolution of 100m or diverse.


Image: Artist’s concept of the spacecraft. Photo: courtesy of FMI.

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